Sunday, 7 February 2016

Coming HOME (at least that's what it feels like; 24 hours in Da Nang)

During the last few hours of the train journey I am hanging out by the windows with my cell phone. The GPS tracks how close I'm getting to Da Nang and pressed to the window the cell phone takes better pictures than a regular camera

bringing a flowering bush home for Tet

And then the wait is over: Ga Da Nang
I step out of the train station to the plaza of waiting taxis. I'm looking for My, my motorbike guide from last December, because I know he hangs out at the train station to find new customers.  I ward off the offers from taxi drivers and keep looking until someone else approaches me. 

In his 50s, fancy leather jacket, fancy shoes and slacks.  "If you come with me I only charge you 20,000 Dong, that one dollar.  The taxi fare would run me about 100,000 Dong,  why is this guy so cheap, he doesn't look destitute !  Then he says the words Easy Rider and everything is clear. He's fishing for customers, just as My was when I arrived here last. 

I tell him that I'm in no rush and he can continue fishing. He does that for 10 minutes and then drives me to my hotel. I ask him for his card and pay him 50K Dong for the ride. No point being a cheapskate!

As soon as the bike pulls up in front of the hotel 'mute bus man' walks up and starts waving wildly as soon as I take my helmet off.  He keeps shaking my hands and he is as happy to see me again as am I to see him.  One of the faces I was looking forward to seeing again on this trip!

The  first thing I do after getting to my room is change into shorts and sandals and head down to the beach for a walk. Within 5 minutes I discover the secret to finding great seashells. Just walk where the fishers empty their nets and quite often you'll find shells they discarded often with a dead shell crab still in it.  One of them seemed to move (it was probably just the strong wind) so I tried to toss it back into the ocean and discover how to get the crabs out of their shells. Sometimes the tumbling in the air will do it, but the rolling along the beach will definitely do it.   A shell bonanza !  Grandma will be happy.

When I have changed back into longer pants (The Vietnamese look at you funny if you walk around a city in shorts in this cold weather ;-), I head twice to the VERY LOCAL market in the convoluted side streets right behind the hotel last time I was here.

The booty of  the first run consists of a huge bunch of gladiolas, which I arrange in a cut-off water bottle  in front of my window.
The flowers are still closed but should open in the coming days to present a spectacular display.

What a difference it makes when the sun comes out:

Since I can't get any info from the web,I prepare some pictures on my laptop of fireworks, a Chinese New Years parade, a clock face, and a map of Da Nang.

Thus prepared I face the receptionist to ask where and when these events take place.

The booty of the second shopping run finally consists of Vang Do (no-one calls wine ruou in Da Nang, they either try to give me spirits or water). I pay 80,000 VND for the bottle, still a very decent price!

I'm getting tied around 6 pm and head to Quan Soi next door for dinner (that's where they had to pluck the chicken before cooking it last December).  I show them a picture of the sauteed clams I had in Dong Hoi yesterday and after a quick nod they're off to order steamed clams in peppers and lemon grass. Not bad but not quite as fabulous as yesterday.  During the entire meal, a waitress hovers behind me, emptying my  empty-shell-dish as soon as 5 clam shells have accumulated, checking my composition when I take a picture of the food, and generally hovering around me in an unpleasant way.  But the food is good and inexpensive at 135,000 VND including fries and a beer.

At 7:30 pm nothing keeps me out of my bed anymore and I sleep until 4:30 am.

At 5 am the lobby is still dark, so I walk up the emergency stairs to the roof terrace on the 6th floor to have my first cigarette.  Little did I know that someone is living up there as is evidenced by light behind a small penthouse and laundry flopping on a clothes line.  The owner? I  have a quick cigarette and stumble down to my room again.

At 6 am I head out for a beach walk in shorts, sandals, and a warm winter jacket ;-)  

I find a few more nice shells for Grandma and the combination of temperature and walking creates a ravenous appetite for breakfast at 7 am.

cold and miserable for breakfast
By 8 am I have found the solution to the fact that there will be fireworks in Da Nang at midnight but NO New Years Parade.  A parade will only take place in Hoi An, for the tourists, I assume.  First I consider taking a scooter the 30 kms to Hoi An for the parade and then back to Da Nang for the fireworks.  But to be honest, I feel TOO OLD for that these days and the weather doesn't help either. So I rented a cheap room in Hoi An for the night (Yes, that means that for the coming night I have paid for 3 hotel rooms in this world ;-(, but at least it allows me to the Parade AND the lanterns AND the fireworks in Hoi An, which  was after all one of the reasons I came here at this time of year.

A couple hours later temperatures have risen and so has my spirit

The old man and the sea

By 10 am there is  no more water dribbling from the sky and the brightness level continues to increase.

I  head down to the beach already slightly tipsy with a glass of wine to create an electronic Tet greeting card. Imagine, if I did that in Canada and an Officer of Law Enforcement would see me, s/he would indubitably pour my wine in the sand and give me a long speech to save me from my erroneous ways.  How Laughable from my present perspective.

OK, so this is not the first glass of the day ;-)

Apropos laughable:  The Imitation Game (WATCH it if you haven't done so) is playing on TV while I type this. Turing tells a joke:  Two people in the woods run into a bear. First person goes down to his knees to pray. 2nd person starts lacing his shoes. 1st person says "What are you doing? Everybody knows you can't outrun a bear!" 2nd person "I don't have to outrun the bear. I only have to outrun YOU".

I go down to reception to pay so I can get my passport back, which I will need tonight in Hoi An and also get the keys to a scooter. After the bus man drives me to the filling station 50 meters down the road again (WHY? I know where it is.) and I drive back to the hotel, I notice that the front tire is FLAT.  I can't say that they aren't doing their darnedest to fix the problem. take another scooter and transfer the fuel? Fix the tire?  pump up the tire?  He gestures for me to sit at the hotel outside tables while he labours and sitting at that table I write these lines. A solution is imminent but it is not clear what it will be. 

But the sun is coming out again when I'm sitting here so it can't be all that bad ;-)

15 minutes later the scooter returns without a limp from one of those everywhere present tire patchers somewhere right behind the hotel. In Ha Noi you see a person sitting with minimum tools, a bucket of water and a tire pump (ranging from mini pumps to compressors) at almost every 2nd street corner).

It's too early to head to Hoi An because A) the sun is to come out around 11, and B) check-in time over there isn't until 2 pm.  So I subject all my used clothes to sink-laundry;  my 24 hour absence should give it enough time to dry in the window.

Time to ride off into the UNKNOWN ( I'd prefer a nice warm sunset to ride into right now)

At 11 am the sun is popping out of the clouds and I hop on the scooter.

No comments:

Post a Comment